Confession: I have Keratosis Pilaris on my arms. It sounds really scary, right? You’ve probably seen it and there’s a 50% chance that you have it too. It’s also commonly called “Chicken Skin” because of the appearance of small bumps on the arms, legs, abdomen and sometimes the face. For whatever reason, the body doesn’t efficiently get rid of keratin and it gets clogged in hair follicles, making small white, brown or red bumps appear.
Did that gross you out? When I first saw it on my skin a few years ago I was pretty self conscious about it. I wasn’t sure what it was (that is until I went to see the doc) and then after that I still wasn’t sure how to treat it. It’s been a few years and a couple of things have helped: working on healing my gut post learning about my Hashimoto’s diagnosis, keeping my skin hydrated and not picking at it.
Good skin from the inside out
I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me until FOUR WEEKS AGO that hydrated skin doesn’t just mean using lotion, but also making sure I’m hydrated from the inside out. You see, the gym I go to is doing an eating challenge called #eatwithapurpose and the first week all. we. had. to. do. was to drink half our body weight in oz. So, since I weigh about 185, I had to drink about 93 oz of water every day. Not as easy as it sounds.
Now, if you think you’re hydrated, but aren’t tracking it, then do you really know? As David Dellanave says, “What gets measured, gets improved.” And, truthfully, I thought I at least drank the minimum, but I was far far off.
So, start now and get to water intake tracking.
And, here’s why
Not only does staying hydrated help your skin (note my empirical evidence above), but it also does a host of other important tasks in the body. I mean, your body is made up of about 60% water*, so it’s got to be important!
- dissolves proteins and transfers them throughout the body
- takes nutrients to cells and carries waste away from the cells
- lubricates joints
- absorbs shock in your eyes and spinal cord
- helps you SWEAT –> think: no sweat, no cooling off, eek!
- provides minerals (depends on the type of water you’re drinking)
Have you heard of the survival’s guide: 3 minutes without air, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food? Water is SECOND. I’m not going to cover too much about what happens when you have too much water and not enough sodium, let’s begin where we are, which I think is the place where we simply aren’t drinking enough.
Dehydration is no fun
Some people say to “Just drink when you’re thirsty!”. Well, that’s not going to cut it. By the time you feel thirsty you’ve probably already lost 1-2% of your bodyweight. At that point you’ll have decreases in your performance and focus.*
You lost this water from doing natural things – breathing, sweating and releasing waste – so hydrating is an all day activity. When you lose too much water, these things can happen:
- loss in physical performance
- decrease in mental focus and clarity
- vomiting and diarrhea
- fever and excessive sweating
- kidney failure
- the list goes on…
How do you know?
We already talked about the “If you’re thirsty, it’s too late” guide to knowing if you’re dehydrated. Other symptoms feel a lot like a hangover: headache, stomach ache, dizziness, and fatigue.* And even more symptoms include things like flushing, low blood pressure, rapid heart rate, fainting, and constipation.* My first signal is usually thirst followed by a headache – do you know what yours is?
The worst part
So, I think we’d all agree that those are not so fun symptoms. But, what I’d really like to focus on is the worst part – that dehydration is preventable if you DRINK. ENOUGH. WATER. You can get about 4 cups of water in the food you take in* provided you’re eating fruits, veggies and protein, but the rest must come from a liquid source.
As a baseline you’ll need to drink half of your bodyweight (in pounds) in ounces of water. For example, let’s go back to me. I weigh 185 lbs, so I’ll need to drink 92.5 ounces of water per day, every day, at a minimum.
Note: this doesn’t account for when I exercise or am in hot weather, but let’s at least start here. Adding in water is a tough thing and we all know that doing everything all at once means doing nothing all at once.
I can’t emphasize this enough: just a 1-2% loss of your bodyweight from dehydration is enough to impact your physical performance and mental focus. Let’s at least get the baseline because why would you want to go through life confused not performing well?
Let’s fix this
Ways to help keep your water intake high:
- Get a portable water bottle, fill it as needed – having something close by will make drinking water easier
- Keep a glass of water by your bed and drink a glass as soon as you wake up
- Get an app on your phone or set a timer on your phone – I would recommend that for about 2-4 weeks and then your water intake will start to feel more natural (this has been my number 1 resource during the challenge)
Yes, you’ll probably have to run to the bathroom more often. However, I’ve noticed that symptom lessens the longer I stay hydrated, although I’m not sure if that’s an everyone thing or a just me thing. Honestly, I don’t mind though because I’m feeling much better, I’ve lost some bloat and my skin is clearing up.
Give hydration a try and let me know how it goes – I think you’ll be surprised by how different you feel. There’s more to come on this – it’s not as simple as just drinking water, but let’s at least start there.
The benefits of water list, dehydrating list and * facts of this article are from Precision Nutrition’s The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition Certification Manual by John Berardi, PhD and Ryan Andrews, MS, MA, RD.